Christian pro-life group Personhood USA is making plans for a 2012 personhood amendment in Colorado after learning from the mistakes of the failed Mississippi amendment.
On Monday, the leadership of Personhood USA and Personhood Colorado announced plans to pursue a Colorado Personhood Amendment. In light of the unsuccessful Mississippi measure, officials say they have a new language to encourage an upswing in the number of people who vote to protect pre-born life.
“In past elections Planned Parenthood, which is the largest and wealthiest abortion provider in the United States, attacked our amendments with lies and scare tactics,” Personhood USA Co-founder Keith Mason said during the Monday press conference. “The new personhood language prevents those falsehoods by making it absolutely clear what the amendment can and cannot do – while still protecting every child from his or her earliest stages.”
A previous personhood amendment that appeared on the 2010 ballot in Colorado simply tried to amend articles of the state constitution to define person to “apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.”
Now the 2012 amendment will include two new definitions crafted by Personhood USA Legal Analyst Gualberto Garcia Jones to the original statement.
The word “person” is defined to mean “every human being regardless of the method of creation.” The person definition embraces babies conceived though in vitro fertilization. The term “human being” is defined as “a member of the species Homo Sapiens at any stage of development.”
The amendment also has clauses clarifying how it would be implemented.
Jones told The Christian Post one of the clauses clarifies that the amendment does not ban birth control. “It will only affect birth control that kills a person,” he said. That means the pill will be allowed while RU486, nicknamed the abortion pill, would be banned.
Additionally, another clause makes it clear that the ban will not punish mischarges that occur due to life-saving treatments such as chemotherapy or surgeries removing a cancerous uterus.
“It’s not that we changed our position,” said Jones. “We’re just putting it in the language.”
Personhood USA and Personhood Colorado hope the new language will sway Christian groups which have been hesitant to support the bill in the past.
The Mississippi personhood Amendment 26 failed with 45 percent of voters supporting the provision and 55 percent opposing.
Though the amendment seemed to serve the interests of pro-lifers who oppose abortion as murder of the pre-born, the state amendment seemed to divide factions of the movement. The Mississippi Baptist Convention supported the proposed amendment while the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and the United Methodist Church General Conference opposed the measure.
The Catholic Diocese of Jackson chose not to take a position on the amendment. However, the Montana Catholic Conference chose not to support the amendment.
“We believe the strategy to pass a state constitutional amendment declaring personhood is problematic, in part, because of its heavy reliance on unpredictable courts and dependence on future legislative actions to define and implement the law," the conference said in a statement.
Gov. Haley Barbour told Fox News, “Some very strongly pro-life people have raised questions about the ambiguity and about the actual consequences of whether there are unforeseen, unintended consequences.”
Jones responded, saying, “The reason that a lot of Christians were not clear or were confused by the languages [was] because the opposition did that.”
Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a statement that the personhood initiative “would have allowed the government to have control over personal decisions that should be left up to a woman, her family, her doctor and her faith, including keeping a woman with a life-threatening pregnancy from getting the care she needs, and criminalizing everything from abortion to common forms of birth control such as the pill and the IUD (the intrauterine device).”
Despite efforts to clarify the true bill’s effects, it failed.
Now Personhood USA officials are confident the new amendment will be well received and passed by pro-life advocates.
The new Personhood Amendment language was submitted to the secretary of state’s office Monday afternoon. Sponsors are now awaiting state approval before beginning the petition process.